Paul Draper (second from right)

Paul Draper (second from right), CEO and winemaker at Ridge Vineyards, is an American icon. His wines are considered by many to be some of the best America has to offer with Jancis Robinson being just one of his legions of fans. He went to Ridge in 1969 and became a co-owner half a decade later, and there he remains to this day, despite the company being bought out in 1986. In fact one of the conditions of the sale was that Draper stay on to make the wine!

But as usual, we want to take a look at Paul Draper's personal wine passion. We asked him six questions...

What do you like to drink on a regular basis?

At home, small producer champagne. Current vintages of Monte Bello Chardonnay and Santa Cruz Mountains Estate Chardonnay, Geyserville and Lytton Springs Zinfandels. Less often at home, Piedmont wines made in the traditional style. Fifteen to twenty-five year old Monte Bello, Old Bordeaux (occasionally too old).

When dining out I never drink my own wines if at all possible, but rather I typically try Spanish reds, Rhones, Austrian Rieslings and many others.

If you weren’t a winemaker, what job would you like to do?

Early on I worked in foreign affairs and enjoyed it very much. I like to teach but at age thirty-three I found my life’s work in winegrowing and can’t imagine anything I would enjoy more. Each year I am in some way a beginner all over again, despite my experience.

What is your most prized possession?

Being alive.

An often asked question is “what is the best wine you have ever made”, so what is the worst wine you have ever made?

A wine that Dave Bennion and I made in 1969 called Tawny Rose. It was oxidized and tasted like a strange version of vermouth.

Describe yourself in three words.

Warm, Garrulous, Obsessed.

Name three people, real or fictional, living or dead, that would make your ideal dinner party guests, and what would you be drinking?

Ales Kristancic, Samuel Johnson and Fielding’s Tom Jones. We would be drinking 1864 Lafite from the Queen Mother’s Castle in Scotland when the wine was 100 years old and in its prime.

Peter Wood